A saltwater pool is an incredible luxury that any homeowner is lucky to have access to. Instead of dealing with the scent of chlorine, dry hair and skin, and irritated eyes, swimmers are left in silky smooth water that is clean and comfortable to swim in. In recent years, converting to a saltwater pool system has become easier and more affordable than ever, and more Canadians make the choice to move to saltwater each year.
Changing to a saltwater pool is a convenient and recommended choice, but the chemistry in a saltwater pool is a bit different than the chemistry in a standard chlorine pool. Before you decide to make the change to a saltwater chlorinator, it is very important that you keep this difference in chemistry in mind.
Saltwater can be very destructive to certain pool appliances and fixtures, and many pool owners make the mistake of converting to saltwater before doing their homework. Before installing a saltwater pool system, do an inventory of your pool equipment and appliances to be sure your system is ready for saltwater.
Saltwater pool systems and your pool heater
If you have a pool heater installed with your pool, it is essential that you determine that your heater is compatible with saltwater before making the change to a saltwater pool. Saline water is corrosive to most pool appliances, and can quickly destroy a swimming pool heater, particularly older models.
If you’re considering making the change to saltwater, you’ll need to take a look at how your swimming pool heater was designed and built. Older heater headers can corrode very fast (sometimes within a season) if exposed to saltwater, but many newer heaters have been designed to withstand high-salinity. Cupro-nickel or copper headers are the best heaters to have in a saltwater pool.
If you discover that your heater is not suited for use in a saltwater pool, you’ll have some choices to make. You may want to consider updating to a new heater, removing heat from your pool, or postponing your conversion to saltwater until the time comes to buy a new pool heater.
Ensuring fixtures are saltwater-safe
Because salty water is so corrosive to metals, it can pose a problem to the small fixtures and hardware around your pool that you don’t often consider. When small fixtures and screws are exposed to saltwater, they can corrode rapidly. This can leave you with rust stains on your liner and fixtures that can be difficult to remove.
When fixtures and hardware are damaged, you also run the risk of experiencing damage to your liner or pool fixtures after water-tight seals are loosened.
If you’re planning to make the change to saltwater, make sure you evaluate all of the hardware associated with your pool, inside and out. Replacing these small parts with salt-resistant hardware will save you time, money and frustration long-term.
Ladders, diving boards, and other pool equipment
There are many additional parts of your pool that you might not consider when making the change to saltwater, but it is important that you keep these parts in mind before making your choice. Ladders, diving boards and other pool additions all have specific and essential hardware that can corrode rapidly when exposed to saltwater.
Before making the change to saltwater, be sure to review all of the additional components of your pool, and change your hardware to titanium fittings that can withstand salt. This will prevent you from having to deal with tough rust stains, and hardware that is stuck in place.
Neglecting chemical maintenance in a saltwater pool
Many people are lured in by the promise of a saltwater pool because they think that there will be no maintenance involved, but that is not the case. Saltwater chlorinators provided added convenience because they allow you to self-produce chlorine rather than purchasing and adding your own, but a saltwater pool is certainly not maintenance-free.
After you make the transition to a saltwater pool, you’ll still need to keep an eye on salt levels, chlorine levels, pH and alkalinity balance in your pool. Many pool owners have made the mistake of thinking that the installation of a saltwater chlorinator means they can neglect their pool for the summer. Neglecting to maintain your pool in all of the usual ways will result in costly damage and a lot of frustration.
Doing your homework before making the change to saltwater
Anyone who has a saltwater pool at home is usually quick to praise their new sanitation system. But, it is important that you do your homework before installing a saltwater chlorinator in your swimming pool, especially in existing and older pools. The change to saltwater can be cost-effective, comfortable and enjoyable for your whole family. But, there can be barriers to a smooth installation that you should consider before making your decision.
Making the change to saltwater is a decision that pool owners rarely regret if they have done their research and have prepared well for the transition.